Contessa Louise Cooper, the founder of Unpuzzled community, shares her journey and inspiring vision of providing high quality parent coaching and support to a 100 single moms.
Today’s guest on this podcast is contessa Louise Cooper and she is an author, advocate, entrepreneur and healer. She’s the founder of laundry 23 and unpleasant, which is a support group for Special Needs caregivers contest to provide safe spaces for individuals to be their authentic selves so that they can begin a holistic and spiritual healing process. You can learn more at unpassable community.com And also at contessa Louie’s dot com and that is CO N T SSA, l o u i s e.com. I’m super thrilled to have you here contessa.
Welcome to functional nutrition for kids. Thank you. Thank you so much for having me again. Super, super excited to be here. For you and for your audience. I could not wait to be on today. Awesome. Me too. And I have been to your website. And it is so fantastic the work you’re doing but would would you mind giving us a brief introduction of your background? What is the work that you do and how you started doing this work? It’s so funny because I tell people, I’m just a mom. And I didn’t even start off that way. Right? I never wanted kids never wanted any type of responsibility.
I just kind of wanted to be wild and free, right. But I ended up pregnant as a young mom, I was 16 years old. My son came super early 34 weeks were in intensive care nursery, it was about seven to 10 days before I actually got to hold my son. That’s how sick he was. And that’s how sick I was. I hadn’t even realized I had not seen or held my son. But that first moment that they put this tiny little cumin in my arms, I knew that I would do everything in my power to make his world. Oh, K yeah, it was at that moment that I knew I was going to be an advocate. No matter what that look like, having my son changed my entire life. It has made me into the person that I am.
Now I’m a firecracker. You better believe that right? But every warrior has a purpose. And my purpose is to help individuals like my son, who has autism and other different types of special needs. And to help mothers like myself. Autism back then, is nothing like autism. Now, there were no resources, there were no communities, there wasn’t a Google where you can just look up anything that you needed in the information right there. Their only thing there was was a one page pamphlet and good luck to you.
And you had to kind of figure things out on your own. And it was difficult. It was a struggle. I had to learn to tap in to my intuition and to my gut feeling in order to figure out what was going to be the best for my son. Because I didn’t have anyone to turn to. But myself. And so that’s where contest to advocate comes from. That’s where the entrepreneur comes from. That’s where the contest you know, we’ll do what it takes come from that’s where that contest who has compassion for others come from? Because believe me back then none of that stuff existed. All right, I’m just blown away listening to your story. Thank you for sharing that. That that is I cannot imagine how it was I know that raising a child with autism now still comes without a guidebook, but I hear what you’re saying. Yes, absolutely.
It was, you know, at least there was some sort of guide, I don’t know how helpful those guides are. Because, you know, every individual with autism is completely different. And moving to wade through all that information can be exhausting. But what if there weren’t any information at all? That’s where I was, you know, the only books out there is like, you know, ABC of parenting or whatever. And that didn’t cover anything that I was going through no behaviors, no feeding challenges, no sensory issues, none of that. I had to figure it out. And most of the doctors that I ran into, they had no clue what was going on. Matter of fact, I had a pediatrician, tell me to institutionalize my son to go have another one. Because that’s what they told me In the office, just just go ahead and institutionalize it happened when you’re young. Wow. And you not only wrote that time through, but you’ve also been this incredible source of strength and healing for other people.
How did that transition happen? It was from people seeing me seeing the work that I was doing in my own life and for my own child, and asking questions, how did you do that? How did you know the right therapy? How did you, you know, create, you know, I was part of the PTA I was very involved in my child’s schooling. And people knew who I was in the school system in my community. And I was a safe place to land.
No judgment, you couldn’t tell me anything. And if I knew how to help you, I would if I didn’t, I would find a way. And then that translated into my online communities as well. And I decided to make myself available to individuals who, number one needed a safe place to land needed a central location to ask questions, to be able to have access to resources, and be able to say, I’m lost, and I don’t know what to do. And that is your community. That is unpleasant, correct? That is correct. Okay, so please tell us more I’m, it is so heartwarming to listen to what you’re talking about. But please tell us more about about your community and the services you offered today.
Wonderful. So the unpublish community is a community of like minded parents, where I offer support for caregivers, for parents, for aunts, and uncles, for sisters and brothers who are caring for loving on individuals who have autism, and any other special needs. So it could be sensory, it could be ADHD, it could be intellectual disability, I say autism, because that’s what it is in my life. But it can be any, you know, diagnosis that your child has, you’re welcome to my community. So there’s the communities outside of Facebook. And I did that on purpose, because I know a lot of individuals don’t like Facebook and some of the stuff that goes on there. Yeah. And so it’s all Facebook, you have all the support you need. We have videos, we have live workshops, we have experts, we you have the ability to chat with other parents and other caregivers.
Not only that, we just don’t focus on the parent and caregivers, but there’s tons of resources on autism, and some of the challenges that you may experience just raising a child period. Right. One of the things that we do have is we have a scholarship fund so and puzzle community is free. Anybody can join, right. But we have a special scholarship program where we offer coaching. And our coaching program is not like there’s 100 People in just one coach, we’re small group setting. And so there may be five to 10, single moms to have children with autism, and you will be assigned a coach.
Once a week you meet with the coach. And you’ll talk about the things that are going on in your life, you’ll talk about the challenges, you’ll be able to ask for resources. And you’ll get to know this group of people for a six month program. That’s something that you don’t find all the time just as tight, this tight community where you get to know each other offer support, and be there for each other and to be able to get the resources that you need specifically for you. And so anyone any single parent in single mom, who has a child with autism, and again, any other special needs, you are welcome to apply for our scholarship when we start in July, and I’m so excited about this.
I was going to say this is the first that I’ve heard about such service being offered anywhere. Is this. Is this a gap that you encounter, or is this Are there other organizations that provide this? As far as I know, I’m the only one who provide something like that because I felt and need afford. I’ve been in tons of other groups. And it just there was something that just didn’t sit right with me. And people online can be bullies, they can be mean, uncaring because they have this, what I call social media courage.
Where they feel like they can say whatever they want because you don’t really know them, and they’re not really showing their true selves. And so I wanted a community where people actually got to know each other on a deeper, more personal level, and be able to take this journey together as a small group, because I know I needed it, I still need it. You know, this journey hasn’t stopped for me, because my son is an adult, it’s just a different journey. But I’m still on this journey and still need support.Wow. Thank you for doing the work that you do. And do you do you have enough resources that that support you if you’re offering scholarships to Single, single moms? Are there other people that are behind you that are offering their support in order for this to happen? Oh, absolutely.
We have an entire team of experts. from all different walks of life. We have therapists, we have nutritionists, we have people who are functional medicine, who are offering their services to make sure that we’re able to provide this for our 100 single moms. Amazing. Yes. You know, and I just absolutely love it. This just comes from years of networking, being supportive, just showing up in this community that able to say, hey, I have this project, would you love to, you know, help me out, and people just coming out and saying absolutely contested whatever you need. And if you’re listening, and you have expertise, you know, we’re always looking for donations as well. Feel free to reach out because there’s never enough, never enough. And we’re always looking for more resources.
I hope you get a lot from this podcast as well. I hope listeners are able to. I mean, I think it’s it’s a privilege to be able to offer services or support the CEO, you’re such a perfect person to ask this because I don’t think I’ve interviewed anybody that’s doing the kind of work that you do that. What are the gaps other? Well, I you’ve already talked about the gap. So let’s see if we can approach this another way. What what are the things that you would like to talk to, to moms that are working with children with disabilities that have children with disabilities that let’s say, let’s what are the three action items or advice that you would give single moms today?
Number one, don’t wait to start planning for the future. And when I’m talking about the future, I’m not talking about next year, or three years down the road, I’m talking about adulthood. Right now, last I checked. In the state of Virginia, there are 10,000 individuals waiting on services, waiting, there’s a wait list. So if you’re thinking about employment, go ahead and sign up for that. Now, if you’re thinking about your child living away from home, and some sort of supportive community, sign up for that now, because there is a list, a waiting list, because there is a lack of resources in those areas.
My son would love to live someplace else, not that he doesn’t love me. But he would love to be as independent as possible. And I want him to, there’s just no where for him to go. He would love to have a job, we worked so hard on skills, he he was in a special program, to where every semester they were doing something different. So he’s worked in a grocery store before.
He worked at hotels before. He’s worked in a restaurant before. But we can’t get him a job, because there aren’t any available. And so start looking and signing up for those resources now. So they can go ahead and be on that waiting list because it could possibly be 10 years down the road before your name comes up. Okay. Another thing that you want to do is look at things like guardianship power of attorney who’s going to handle things like medical care, who’s going to handle your child’s finances, and then who’s going to take care of your child, when you’re not around? These are things that we don’t want to think about. But it’s better to plan them now than later.
Right. So a lot of there’s clearly a lot of planning that’s involved. And I think it becomes especially more important if you are a single parent. Absolutely, absolutely. Because sometimes the only person that you have is you. And so what happens when you’re not there, the thought of your child being given over to the state is not something that you want to happen. So who’s going to be it if it’s not you, another relative, a really good friend, and having that in writing saves so much time, and gives you a peace of mind as a parent to what happens to my child.
Peace. So we were talking from the perspective of you giving advice to a single mom, but from from the perspective of society? What would you tell a practitioner? Because I was just thinking about, about how many things I want to ask you, but how can there’s a lot of families that are pretty vulnerable, that have children with disabilities? Or how what would you tell functional medicine or regular practitioner listening? And how can they support them?
The easiest way to support a family is to truly listen to families. And I know sometimes it’s difficult, you guys, you know, professionals are seeing a lot of patients have a large client list. But to really give parents and opportunity to be truthful, vulnerable and honest about the things that are going on in their family and not feeling like they’re going to be judged. Or having to deal with what I call being too much of a professional, like, don’t talk to us, like we’re stupid, like we don’t understand, don’t use a lot of big fancy words, talk to us, like you would talk to, you know, someone who’s close to you. So we can really have true dialogue, that would be so helpful. That’s fantastic advice.
A lot of the support, I would say more than 90% of the support that families experienced today is fortunately or unfortunately, probably more unfortunately, very centered on Facebook. So every all supports our online support groups. So it also brings the idea that it’s so important to have forums of support that are independent of social media, like there used to be maybe 10 years ago. And I feel like we’ve kind of come full circle to the same place, right? Absolutely, absolutely. There used to be forums and, and Yahoo groups and things like that. And we’ve all kind of gone on Facebook. But Facebook leaves a lot of people uncomfortable, if it’s not for the constant bickering, you know, you have moderators that maybe not do a great job of moderating. So you have some bullying, going on some name calling some judgment going, I’ve left plenty of Facebook groups, because I didn’t feel like I was being supportive, or heard or nurtured. I didn’t get what I needed.
There were a few people that seem to run the group. And if you had any idea that was different than everybody else, and they would kind of run you out of the group. We don’t have that in my community. It’s very open. We don’t allow bullying, name calling. We have one of the things that I think is really great is that I have what I call Vince. And if you are venting, that means you don’t offer advice.
You’re just letting someone say what is on their mind. You can encourage them, you can give them great words, but no advice because sometimes you just need to let it out in a safe place. You can’t do that in a lot of groups. But you can absolutely do that in the unposted community. Thank you Contessa. Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your community that that listeners haven’t heard yet or how they can reach your community what website they can use to donate to your community?Absolutely. And so I tell people that I’m very easy to find you can find to be everywhere on social media.
At contest Louise, my website is contestable. viz.com. From there, you can get to the unpublished community, or you can go to uncoupled community.com and go directly to the website we are there for single parents. We are there for anyone who is managing caring for a loving individual with autism or any type of special need. And also you can go there for donations. Again, I am an open book. If you would say hello, I would definitely say hello back and don’t be afraid to ask questions. That is what we’re here for.Thank you for filling this gap contest. A lot of us don’t even talk about the gap but you’re out there feeling it and being supportive. Thank you for that and thank you for being on this podcast as well. Thank you once again for having me super, super excited. You know, I feel like if we all do our part, it will make this a much better world for everyone.
Today’s podcast filled a much needed gap and I hope you enjoyed this podcasts. Do you know where to reach contessa WWW dot and puzzled community.com You know where to reach me. I’m your host device, www dot functional nutrition for kids.com. And if you navigate to the podcast menu, you can also see every other podcast that has been recorded. Today’s music as usual was by my daughter my precaution I forgot your next Friday. Bye